Google’s “Renegade Notion of Eminent Domain”

Published in October 2, 2005, New York Times

To the Editor:

Tim O’Reilly (“Search and Rescue,” Op-Ed, Sept. 28), who is on the publisher advisory board for Google Print, informs us of the many benefits of the Google Library program.

The program, which would digitize and store millions of books, has its merits, all of which can be achieved through proper licensing. Google knows its business; it expects to profit from this project. Certainly some of those profits should go to the authors who created the books.

By digitizing mountains of copyrighted books without permission, Google is exercising a renegade notion of eminent domain: Google decides what’s good for us and seizes private property to get it done.

Legitimate eminent domain is exercised by elected officials, however. And the property owners get paid.

There’s a better way: let’s build a real digital library, not just “snippets.” Writers are willing, but not at the cost of our rights.

Nick Taylor President, Authors Guild New York, Sept. 29, 2005

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